After seeing the recent letters on this page expressing views on the uses of Church Square Park, I would hope most of us can agree on one point - we desperately need more open space in Hoboken. All of the viewpoints expressed are valid, and all the needs are legitimate. We need more fields for formal and informal sports for all ages, we need to preserve the existing trees and historic parks in our town, we need more dog runs, and we need passive space for seniors and sunbathers to relax and enjoy the outdoors without fear of being an unintended participant in a ball game. The fact is, our population has increased significantly over the past 20 years, and our park-space per resident ratio has not kept up with that pace. The public, with its differing needs, are competing for our precious existing park space, and we need to focus on creating more space to satisfy all these needs rather than only reprogramming existing space.
We are also at a critical juncture; if we do not act now, the few remaining larger parcels identified in the City's Master Plan will be lost forever to development. The time is now for the City to demonstrate leadership in this regard. I am heartened to see that the City Council voted 9-0 a few weeks ago to seek funding for a much needed park in the City's Southwest and may also consider seeking funding for the acquisition of the Cognis site on the Westside at the March 5, 2008 Council meeting. These are positive signs. But we can not stop there. We need a public process to evaluate the parks and recreational facilities that we have and the parks and recreational facilities that we need to best serve our residents.
I would urge all of the interested stakeholders who are competing for the existing space to work together and participate in public park process. We need to address the issue from a City-wide perspective, much like the Master Plan process some years ago, rather than with piecemeal efforts here and there. If the City does not step up to the plate to do this soon, then the residents will take on this critical task themselves.